It’s that time of year again. The time when we prepare to say farewell to this current year. And start thinking about next year and all the possibilities it holds. For us, that means travel. So let’s take a look at which destinations are going to be the best places to travel in 2018. Whether it’s countries enjoying a reinvention as a prime safari destination or once-overshadowed nations taking a step into the limelight, here is our pick of next year’s hottest holiday spots.
Portugal has been enjoying time in the spotlight for a while now. Throughout the year there’s been talk of Portugal being Europe’s hottest destination. And there are facts to prove it. The number of international visitors jumped by 13% last year, which made it a sixth straight record year for tourist arrivals in Portugal. It’s a trend that’s set to continue.
There’s little wonder why when you consider what Portugal has going for it – incredible UNESCO monuments, gorgeous beaches, charming cities and agreeable weather. The capital Lisbon is ranking as one of the continent’s most popular city breaks with a winning combination of art, culture and cuisine. While in the north, the city of Porto boasts the same.
What also makes Portugal a top choice for 2018 is its surprising affordability. It’s one of the cheapest countries in Western Europe, giving it the edge over its neighbour Spain, which has long been the main attraction on the Iberian Peninsula. Even Portugal’s beach resorts trump the likes of Bulgaria, often touted one of the most economical summer holiday destinations in Europe.
Sure, Sri Lanka has had its moment in the limelight. Rewind a few years and everyone was talking about this island nation being the next big thing. And it was. People have been enjoying Sri Lanka’s gorgeous beaches, awe-inspiring ancient monuments and delicious cuisine for quite some time. Even the once restricted northeast part of the country is now well and truly open for business.
But what’s news now is Sri Lanka as a safari destination. Not only is it home to the world’s highest concentration of leopard, it also claims a healthy population of Asian elephant. There’s an impressive 26 national parks in Sri Lanka. And each has something different going for them. Star national parks are Yala where you’ll have the greatest chance of spotting the elusive big cat, and Minneriya where over 300 elephants gather during the dry season.
And what’s more, Sri Lanka has been quick to capitalise on tourist interest with a healthy offering of upmarket accommodation. Like Africa, Sri Lanka has a range of lodges strategically located beside national parks. From jungle chalets to permanent tented camps, intimate lodges to expansive resorts, there’s something for all tastes and budgets.
For the last few years, Iceland is all that anyone’s been talking about. Helped by the fact that it’s had a starring role in the hit TV series ‘Game of Thrones’. But with popularity comes people – lots of them. Tourism in Iceland jumped by 39% last year with 1,792,200 travellers visiting the island. So now travellers are looking for somewhere new. Somewhere just as dramatic in its offering of landscapes but with more bragging rights.
Enter Greenland. The last frontier in the Northern Hemisphere for many seasoned travellers. It’s wild, it’s epic and it’s still well off the tourist radar. Greenland boasts the kind of experiences that grace bucket lists and inspire fervent saving (sadly, it’s not cheap). Think dog sledding, Northern Lights chasing, snowmobiling and whale watching. In the warmer summer months you can even hop aboard a boat to take you right beside an iceberg for a true drink ‘on the rocks’.
The last few years have seen a positive growth in visitor numbers to Greenland and this is likely to continue with good flight options from Iceland and Denmark, as well as a number of cruises available. Though it’ll be a long time before you have to worry about crowds. In 2016 a total of just 56,909 travellers visited Greenland.
Turkey has suffered a bad rep of late. What with terrorist attacks and its unfortunate position next to war-torn Syria. But things have quietened down, security has tightened. And like Egypt before it, it’s about time Turkey enjoyed a resurgence. It’s about time people started heading back to Turkey.
Reports this year suggest that tourism is on the rise for the first time since the troubles began. The month of May saw a 16% increase in visitor numbers compared to the same period in 2016. Which is great news for a country that once prided itself on its dynamic and fast-growing tourism sector.
Cheap prices and quieter beach resorts are the bonuses for visiting Turkey next year while holidaymakers tentatively return. Plus there’s everything you’d normally expect of Turkey as a travel destination. The stunning ruins of ancient empires, natural wonders like the white travertine terraces of Pamukkale, and the exquisite Ottoman architecture of Istanbul. And let’s not forget the food.
2018 marks what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday. And South Africa is celebrating the occasion with a two-year long “be the legacy” programme of activities. These activities will include educational events, art exhibitions and sporting events held in South Africa and abroad.
The project aims to build a foundation for the kind of society that Mandela would have wanted to see in South Africa. The kind of society built on the values of integrity, passion, respect, service, transformation and transparency. And best of all, this programme will benefit the smaller townships as well as the larger cities.
For travellers it’ll mean a menu of events that offer a powerful insight into all that Nelson Mandela represents to South Africans. And this, combined with the incredible safari opportunities and outdoor adventure that South Africa has longed offer, makes 2018 a brilliant time to visit.
The city of Oslo often plays second fiddle to the more stylish Nordic capitals of Stockholm and Copenhagen. But that is set to change next year as the country marks the 50th wedding anniversary of Norway’s cherished king and queen.
This year the royals celebrated their joint 80th birthdays with the kind of vigour more usually reserved for parties hosted by those decades younger. It’s this fun-loving, informal attitude that makes King Harald and Queen Sonja so popular with Norwegians. And if 2017 is anything to go by, next year will be a blast. Expect a calendar packed with pomp and spectacle.
Oslo won’t be the only place in Norway celebrating the event though it’s a great place to start a trip. Especially for opera fans, as the architecturally impressive Oslo Opera House is also celebrating a special occasion – its tenth birthday. There will be a season of special concerts and performances in honour of this milestone.
India has long attracted travellers, from the hippies of the 60s to the yoga lovers of the 00s. Next year it’ll be drawing the herbivores among us. As vegetarianism and veganism continue to grow in popularity, it’s likely we’ll see a new trend – veggie travel. Meat abstainers purposefully travelling to countries where they can indulge themselves. Instead of being restricted in their food choices.
For many vegetarians and vegans, travelling abroad can be a minefield. Not every culture understands the concept and it can be a struggle to find restaurants that cater to these diets. And that’s where India will come into its own in 2018. With a low meat consumption and cuisine that showcases vegetables at their most delicious, India is the perfect veggie-friendly destination.
In fact, India’s vegetarian dishes are the kind that can have even the staunchest carnivore salivating. And when you can combine a gastronomical adventure with ticking the Taj Mahal off your wishlist, going in search of Bengal tigers and relaxing on tropical beaches, it’s a no-brainer.
Which countries do you think will be the hottest travel destinations next year? Let us know in the comments section.